The recent flare-up in Gaza rests on two assumptions: one, that the majority of the world will believe Hamas’ obfuscations, lies and manipulations and, two, that Jews must never fight back. Only one has proven true.
Everyone knows what Hamas wants. It is no secret. The terror group has spoken about it publicly: kill the Jews, destroy Israel, take all of Palestine back. To that fight they have brought their guns, their Molotov cocktails, their knives and their metal cutters. Under the guidance – and in some cases the forceful enslavement of their Hamas masters – all sorts of people move toward the fence separating Israel from Gaza and, if they get too close, they are shot, usually in the leg but not always. There is no secret what Hamas wants and what Hamas is. By trying to attack the Israeli side of Gaza, they know that the press will cover them, dutifully call Israel an aggressor and bemoan how disproportionate the use of force is. There is a reason Hamas will not try to breach the southern end of Gaza: the Egyptians would shoot them all and there would be no press coverage. So, in that sense, Hamas has brought attention to their issues and the sympathetic news organizations have lapped it up.
Too bad the Jews fight back. Jews are not supposed to fight back. In the mind of so many, any resistance by Jews is disproportionate. But the argument this time, is slight skewed toward Israel. You see, people are no longer saying that Israel does not have a right to defend itself. It only has the right to defend itself too much. Not a big shift, but a shift nonetheless. If the Israelis were to fight with ignited kites, stones, guns and rocks, the world would, no doubt, complain that the Israeli kite arsenal is far too technologically advanced and would overwhelm Hamas’ kite arsenal and so it is not a fair fight. Israel knows that whatever it does, it will be condemned.
So what is Israel to do? It is doing it: it is defending its borders and, by definition, its civilians. The simple question is, if Israel does not take care of its people, who will? No one. That is why Israelis know how disingenuous those who buy the Hamas plot-line are, how truly uncaring the UN is and how easily people are manipulated. They know perfectly well that if a mortal enemy descended on the home of any of the so-called morality squad, they would protect that home and all who live it regardless of what the papers say.
Israelis are raised in Jewish morals and ethics. From the earliest age Jewish children learn the midrash that, when Moses and the Israelites looked back over the Sea of Reeds and saw they Egyptians perish they started celebrating their demise. At once, God’s angry voice could be heard saying, ‘Why are you celebrating? My children are drowning and you dance?!” Israelis may have the terrible task of defending their home which is sometimes a violent and terrible thing to have to do. But Israelis don’t celebrate the death of even their worst enemy for, yes, even their worst enemy is a child of God.
And that is what makes Israelis so sad at that same time. Golda Meir once said, ““We can forgive the Arabs for killing our children. We cannot forgive them for forcing us to kill their children.” This is the essence of Israeli pain. It has been said that Israel cares more about the Palestinians in Gaza than the government of Gaza. Undoubtedly true. And I am afraid that this is the way it will be until the next generation of leaders, both Israeli and Palestinian who can see the futility of an unwinnable war and can envision a real future of Israel and Palestine living side by side. It won’t happen anytime soon, of that I am certain. But it will happen, of that I am also certain. But before it does, everyone has to start telling the truth and, in all things in that part of the world, the truth is as plentiful as water in the vast expanse of desert – hard to see, hard to get to, hard to find, and rare. But when the deep well of truth is dug and the waters of truth flow, new life can flow into the veins of those willing to dream. The problem today is that no one is digging very urgently.